Realtor Tips

How to Host a Sizzling Summer Open House

According to the National Association of Realtors®, more than 40 percent of all homes sold last year were between the months of May and August. There are so many reasons why summer may be the perfect time to put your home on the market – families are trying to settle into a new place before the school year starts and buyers have their tax refunds firmly in hand. But with so many others reaching the same conclusion, how do you make your home stand out?

A well planned open house allows potential buyers to picture how life in this home would be, and in the summer people tend to be more relaxed; it’s the time of vacations and lazy days. So making your home’s open house a haven from the heat is the best way to help them visualize that this is the house is where they’ll want to spend all of their summers.

Here are a few tips to help your home’s open house stand out this summer.

Pump the A/C. It’s easy for a house to become stuffy and warm during the summer, especially with exterior doors frequently opening and closing, so make sure that you have the air conditioning running whenever you’re hosting potential buyers.  Just make sure to keep the temperature cool and inviting, not set to a deep freeze!

Curb Appeal. Your home’s curb appeal is its first impression, and the summer months can be harsh on your home’s front lawn. Unlike in winter, where fresh snow in the front yard can appear romantic and enticing to buyers, there is nothing attractive about the dry, dead lawns of summer. Water frequently or update your home’s landscaping to something grass-free.

Outdoor Living. If your home has a pool, a large deck or an outdoor kitchen, the summer months are the perfect time to highlight them.  Put some lemonade out for buyers to enjoy on the patio and keep the pool crystal clean.  Remember, however, that summer means kids are out of school, and they may be joining their parents on open house tours, so make sure that pool gates are kept locked tight for safety.

Embrace the Season. Potential buyers may be hot and thirsty when they arrive, so prepare for it. Have a cooler with ice-cold bottled water ready and waiting for them the moment they walk in the house, and have refreshing snacks, like watermelon or popsicles, available in the kitchen or on the patio. This will help home buyers picture your home as their oasis in the heat.

Following a few easy open house tips can help you quickly find the right buyer this summer.  If you are interested in selling or buying a home this summer, contact a local Realtor®.

Tips for Buying a Home with Friends

With housing inventory low and prices going up, some people are making the decision to partner with friends and buy a home together. This scenario allows people who otherwise would not be able to afford a house to share expenses and achieve the dream of becoming homeowners. But how do you know if buying property jointly is the right move for you?

It is important to remember that this is a business transaction, so you and your friends will have to approach it as such. You are going to have to have a very open, very frank conversation with your friends about their finances, their plans for the future, what to do if someone wants to sell, etc.If these are conversations you are uncomfortable having or you are worried about the effect they might have on your friendship, then buying a home with friends is probably not the right choice for you.

However, if you and your friends can come to terms, owning a home while sharing the burden of all the costs can help you build your savings while gaining equity in a home.

Here are some tips on purchasing a home with friends:

Review your friends’ finances. This is most likely the largest financial decision of your life, so now is not the time to hem and haw on questions of finance. You will need to be aware of everyone’s credit scores, income, savings and any other relevant assets. It is important to make sure that you and your friends are financially prepared to become homeowners.

Decide how payments and costs will be split. Questions to consider are how much each person will contribute to the downpayment and if that will affect how you and your friends divide the mortgage payments? Will the utilities be split evenly every month or will you alternate who pays? It is important that these details be worked out and understood by everyone involved before the home is purchased.

Decide on the type of house. Are you planning on buying a single-family home or a multi-family home? Do you see yourself sharing a kitchen and bathroom, or are you looking to buy a place where you will each have your own private residence? You should also decide ahead of time on everyone’s must-haves for the home. Knowing that your friend will only buy a house with a big backyard or that they will not buy a house on a corner lot can save you a lot of time house hunting.

Get everything in writing. It is important that all of the co-purchasers keep written documentation of all of your agreements regarding financial and other responsibilities. So many people think that because they are dealing with friends that there is no need to write up a contract, but it can help you to avoid conflicts and surprises down the road.

Work with a Realtor®. Buying a home is an important decision, and whether you are doing it on your own or with a friend, using a Realtor® is a smart move. A Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, can provide counsel, discuss listings, show you homes in person, negotiate on your behalf and help you stay focused on the issues that are most important.

If you enter the arrangement educated and prepared, co-purchasing a home can be a great way to get your foot on the first step of the homeownership ladder.

Tips for Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Your home’s curb appeal is the first chance to impress potential buyers. Whether buyers are wowed by a beautiful and well-maintained yard or are repelled by dirty exterior walls and an overgrown lawn can significantly impact your home’s sales price if you’re thinking of selling it this spring.

When buyers pull up to a house, they want to be able to picture themselves living in and coming home to it. Dead grass and chipped paint can make that all the more difficult to visualize. Making sure your home is prepared, both inside and out, before you put it on the market could help it sell faster and for top dollar.

Here are a few tips to make sure your curb appeal is making the best impression on potential buyers:

•Clean your house.
It’s not only the inside of your home that needs to be kept clean of dirt and grime, the outside of your home should be just as spotless. Clean your outer walls with soapy water and wash your windows inside and out. According to Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS, washing your house can substantially raise the sale price.

•A new coat of paint.
After you’ve cleaned your home’s exterior, the next step is to apply a fresh coat of paint. A new coat of paint is like a face-lift for your home. But don’t try to make a statement with your home’s color. If your home is a wildly different color from the other homes in your neighborhood, it could negatively affect a buyer’s perception of the home’s value.

•A well-manicured yard.
Your front yard creates your home’s first impression to prospective buyers, so make sure that your lawn is green and trimmed and your shrubs and flower beds are well tended. It is important to keep your yard neat, raking any fallen leaves and pulling any weeds. If there is a barren tree in your front yard, cut it down and replace it with grass.

•Repair the roof.
If your roof is damaged, dirty or missing shingles, it can have a negative impact on the value of your home. If your neighbors’ roofs are well maintained or have been recently replaced, it will make yours look especially ragged. Sometimes a good cleaning is all you need to have your roof look like new. However, that isn’t a project you will want to take on yourself without the proper equipment; hire a professional with the right tools and training, who will be able to clean your roof without damaging it.

By making a few simple changes to your home’s exterior, you can increase your home’s value and hopefully help it sell more quickly this spring.

Realtors’® Market Predictions for 2015

As we welcome in the New Year, we also welcome more positive predictions for the housing market. After years of slow and steady recovery, in 2014 the U.S economy saw its best year since the 2008 recession. With the economy continuing to show improvement and income levels seeing growth, housing experts and economists have high hopes for 2015. After seeing so much improvement in 2014, the housing market seems poised for a real comeback in 2015. Prospects are looking bright for homeowners and prospective home buyers.

Here are a few trends and predictions the Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS expects to see play out in the coming year.

Lending standards will be loosened. In December 2014, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they will be offering 3 percent down payment mortgages, rather than 5 percent. Many potential buyers simply do not have the resources to save for a substantial down payment. This new program will allow first-time, creditworthy buyers, who would otherwise be kept out of the market, to purchase a home.

Mortgage rates will go up. With the economy improving, the Federal Reserve has indicated that they will be increasing the federal funds rate in 2015. This rate has a substantial impact on mortgage rates, which have been at historic lows for the past few years. This means that if you are considering buying a home or refinancing your mortgage, now is the time. The rates will likely increase as the year progresses.

Millennials will enter the market. As the economy continues to make gains and the job market improves, millennials (ages 25-34) will start forming households and entering the housing market. Millennials began to enter the market in 2014, but as the job market continues to improve and rent prices continue to rise millennial’s involvement in the housing market will likely increase. Combining that with opportunities for lower down payments, it’s a prime time for young people to enter the market.

Housing inventory will increase. Builders will begin to ramp up production in 2015. This increase in inventory should help improve choices for consumers, another potential draw for first-time buyers.

For more information about the 2015 housing market contact a Realtor®, whose expertise and local market insights can help make your home or investment dreams happen in the year ahead.

Louisville Area 2014 Average Price up 2.7% with Home Sales down 2.8%

Members of the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors® (“GLAR”) recorded 12.2% fewer sales in November 2014 compared to November 2013; however, this is coming off of October sales that were up 11.7% compared to the same month last year. On a year to date basis, sales are down 2.8% and the average price is up 2.7%. In Jefferson County the average price year to date is up 2.2% to $182,353 and the median price year to date is up 0.6% to $145,000. The inventory of homes available for sale remains tight with approximately 11% fewer than last year.

GLAR President Paula Colvin commented that, “although sales were down in November, we are still on track for a similar volume of sales compared to last year, combined with a positive bias for home prices.” At the national level, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors®, recently remarked that despite a modest decline in sales, “contract signings have remained at a healthy pace for six straight months.” Continued low mortgage rates have facilitated steady demand, “but it would be more robust if it weren’t for lagging wage growth and tight credit conditions.” Yun also highlighted a statistic from NAR’s recent survey in which the typical seller has now been in their home for 10 years, representing an all-time high for the survey. He expects the national median existing home price to rise 4% next year and in 2016.

November-2014-Release

How to make the best purchase offer in a seller’s market

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You’ve worked with a Realtor® to scour the listings, toured what feels like a million houses and finally found it: the house you want to call home. The next step is to make your purchase offer, and if you are like most people, the prospect can be quite intimidating. In a seller’s market, there can be even more pressure on the buyer to submit an impressive bid. So how can you make sure that the offer you submit is the one that is accepted?

In a seller’s market, home prices are a bit higher and inventory is lower. This means you are more likely competing with multiple bidders. In a competitive market like this, sellers need every advantage they can get, and working with a Realtor® to make the best purchase offer is a smart move. And, believe it or not, the bid with the highest price is not always the one that wins.

Of course sellers want to get the best price for their home, but that isn’t always the deciding factor. Eliminating or reducing the number of contingencies with your bid, through things like pre-offer inspections, can also help make your offer stronger. The bid that causes the least amount of hassle for the seller is the one that will probably win.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you should just submit a below market offer with no contingencies. This is not the time to make a lowball offer. When you are going up against more than one potential buyer, it’s the time to put your best foot forward. This might be your one chance to convince the owner to sell their home to you, so it’s all the more important to submit your best possible purchase offer.

If you can pay cash for your home, chances are your bid will be accepted. Sellers’ appreciate all-cash offers as they usually mean a quick, streamlined purchase. Financing issues, such as delays in mortgage approval or getting funds moved from the buyer’s bank account, are the primary causes of delays in the closing process. If a seller can avoid a lengthy or complicated process by choosing an all-cash buyer they likely will.

For most people, however, a cash offer isn’t a possibility, and you’ll need to qualify for some variety of mortgage financing. If this is your situation, get preapproved for a mortgage before you begin the search process. With loan preapproval, you’ll be able to make a solid commitment to buy, and your offer will be more appealing to the seller.

And of course, the most important thing that you can do to give yourself an advantage is to hire a Realtor®. Realtors® have real insights and unparalleled knowledge of your local market and can help you navigate the complicated home buying process.   Click here for more.

Sell Your Home This Summer

sunshine

Selling your home can be no easy feat, especially during the hot summer months.  However, there are a number of reasons that this summer could be the best time to put your house on the market.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, fifty percent of homes are sold during the summer months. In summer, the frenzy of the spring buying season has ended, so you may have fewer houses to compete with for buyers. Also, potential buyers will have received their tax refund checks by summer and that may be just what they need to pull together a downpayment. Selling in summer also gives families time to settle in before school starts. All of these reasons make summer a perfect time to market your home for sale.

Here are a few tips from the Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS (GLAR) to make sure your house is sold for the best price and in plenty of time for fall:

Air Conditioning. During the summer, your house can become hot and stuffy. Keep the air conditioning at a reasonable temperature; not so cold that buyers will be searching for their jackets, but cool enough that they won’t want to go back into the heat outside.

Summer Plans. Plan your annual vacation in advance so that you can list your home accordingly. Timing is everything when it comes to selling a home, so make sure that when offers start coming in that you aren’t out of town.

Landscaping.  Your front yard is the first thing people notice about your house, so make sure your lawn and flower beds aren’t suffering in the summer heat. Keep the grass trimmed by mowing often, plant fresh flowers and remove any debris from the lawn.  Also, clean your deck, porch, patio or outdoor kitchen and repaint or make any necessary repairs. This is your outdoor space’s chance to shine, so keep it in top condition all season.

Provide Refreshments.  Make sure to greet potential buyers the way you would guests and provide drinks or snacks. During the hot summer days, bring out a cold pitcher of lemonade or a cooler full of bottled water for the buyers. Set out some fruit or other light snacks that are seasonally appropriate. Anything you can do to make visitors linger a little longer could help you sell quicker.

Work with a Realtor®. Finally, GLAR reminds sellers that all real estate is local, so it’s important to work with a Realtor® who is familiar with your community. These professionals know the pricing strategies, buyer preferences and marketing approaches that will achieve the best results in your area.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you increase your chances of quickly finding the right buyer for your home this summer.